ELKMONT, Ala. -- A soldier flew home so he could surprise his son on stage during the Alabama senior's high school graduation Thursday, according to WHNT.
"I haven't seen my son in a year," U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Nate Owen said. "I missed his birth while I was at basic training 18 years ago by 12 hours. So, I didn't want to miss this."
Owen said he was counting the days before he could get back for the ceremony.
As the seniors donned their red and black and filed into Elkmont High School's gymnasium, Nate Jr. had no idea his dad was in the building.
"Mum was the word, we couldn't say anything," Nate Jr.'s grandfather Victor Owen said.
So, as his name was called, Nate Jr.'s principal had a surprise in store.
While the whole moment lasted just a few beats, Nate Jr. said he was shocked and overcome with emotion that his dad surprised him on his big day. And he's just glad he's home.
"He's a level-headed, cool kid," Owen said. "I couldn't ask for a better son."
"Us being able to do what we're doing right now is from the blood that's been spilled by the many people who've given their lives for this country and for the red, white and blue," Victor said.
After three deployments and nearly 20 years of service, Nate Sr. says he hopes this time he's home for good.
As it happens, the family will also be together in time to celebrate Nate Jr.'s 18th birthday this week .